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Bay Area home sales tumble 25% in August

September 14, 2007|From Bloomberg News

San Francisco Bay Area house and condominium sales fell 25% last month to the lowest for an August in 15 years as stricter loan standards pushed some buyers out of the market, DataQuick Information Systems said Thursday.

A total of 7,299 new and existing single-family homes and condominiums were sold in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda and six other Northern California counties last month, down from 9,713 a year earlier, DataQuick said. Last month's sales count was the lowest for an August since 1992, when 6,688 homes changed owners.

Lenders are requiring home buyers to make bigger down payments and have higher credit ratings to qualify for loans as rates for some mortgages jump. Standards are particularly strict for jumbo loans, mortgages higher than $417,000, which are prevalent in Northern California, DataQuick said.

"Homes in the Bay Area are more expensive than elsewhere, and most of them are financed with jumbo mortgages," DataQuick President Marshall Prentice said. "The turbulence in the mortgage markets has made it more difficult to get this type of financing."

Bay Area sales fell as the average rate on a 30-year jumbo mortgage reached a five-year high of 7.18% last month, according to Bankrate.com.

The median price paid for a home in the Bay Area was $655,000 last month. That's up 4% from a year earlier and just 1.5% below a record $665,000 reached in June and repeated in July, according to DataQuick. The median dropped from a year earlier in Solano, Sonoma and Napa counties; was unchanged in Contra Costa County; and rose in four counties.

The biggest rise was in Marin County, where the median price increased 12%, followed by San Francisco at 7.8%.

The number of homes sold fell in all nine Bay Area counties, DataQuick said.

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